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Requirements for Closing Practice

April 2, 2013

Question:

Jennifer,

It has been a long decision, but we have decided to close our specialist practice.  Is there a notification period we must have before we stop seeing patients?  Are there any other requirements we should be aware of?

Thanks
Dr. W.

Answer:

Yes, there are many, which is why my first statement must be that I recommend working with competent healthcare counsel to ensure a smooth transition.  Several areas of concern are below, but this list is NOT exhaustive. Also please remember that each practice, to a degree, is different, and closure must be approached differently for each practice.

1. Continuity of care issues and patient access to charts - You are required to notify your patients of the pending closure so that they may transition to a new provider.  You must be careful not to abandon patients.  I recommend notice sent to each active patient of the practice and also potentially publicizing the closure.  You will also want to ensure that the patient records are available for pick-up, if requested by patients, and that you are going to adhere to your maintenance requirements for each record.  You may wish to contract with another provider to take over "custodianship" of the records, or you may be able to sell custodianship and certain assets to another provider.  We should discuss in greater detail offline. There is definite value to an active patient base...

2.  Terminate contractual obligations - You will have to notify any carriers you participate with, and also notify your malpractice carrier of the closure.  If you are maintaining another location or general practice elsewhere, please be extra careful you do not accidentally terminate your ongoing relationships you need in place to keep practicing elsewhere. 

3.  Drugs - You are not allowed to keep leftover medications or samples if you are closing.  You should return all leftover medications to either the manufacturer or to the DEA, as required.  Click here for more info.

Understandably once you have made the decision to close, you are not looking to accrue additional expenses related to the practice, especially an expense listed by many as "ancillary" or "unnecessary" but working with legal counsel to assist with closure is extremely important.  Risking exposure post-closure is what is unnecessary and very possible if the practice is not closed properly with attention to existing requirements.

Feel free to contact me directly (516 747 6700 x. 302 or Jennifer@Kirschenbaumesq.com) to discuss in greater detail.


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